As a small business owner, you want to impress a customer from the moment they walk into your business—whether they’re greeted by an aroma of fresh-baked pastries, beautifully arranged products, or a friendly face. But more and more often, customers are experiencing that first touchpoint digitally: More than 65% of consumers say they research products online before going to a brick-and-mortar store, and 76% say they check out a business’s online presence.
Choosing the right technology is crucial to ensuring these customers complete their journey to your store—whether that’s from your online booking portal, Yelp Page, or social media site. But how do you go about finding tech that feels as personalized and helpful as that first “hello” from a team member?
Jeremy Julian—host of The Restaurant Technology Guys podcast and vice president of professional services at Custom Business Solutions—helps business owners find technology that enhances their business, based on one guiding principle: Any technology you adopt should be focused on improving the customer experience.
“Get back to the roots of ‘why did you start that brand?’—then use technology to augment that process and help you do it at a better scale,” he said. “[It’s important] that we do it at a pace that’s really helpful for the consumers because without them, none of us have a business at the end of the day.”
Below, Jeremy shares five tips to guide your hunt for new tech, from shopping around to finding the best business partner.
1. Shop around before adopting new tech
Identifying existing pain points is key to using technology effectively. One way to accomplish this is to become a customer yourself and “shop” technology experiences in similar businesses.
“Go be a consumer at two or three brands that you know,” Jeremy said. “Business owners like to talk to other business owners, and they like to talk about what they’re doing well.” This can give you valuable insight into how your customers want to interact with the technology you are trying to implement.
2. Go with the simplest solution
Technology is often the first touch point for your consumers, so the solution you choose should be intuitive and reliable. Otherwise, you could lose potential customers—40% of consumers visit a competitor’s website if they have trouble accessing a company’s mobile site.
Jeremy said: “[Customers aren’t] walking in and talking with the owner. They’re on your website where they’re on an app, scheduling their time. And if they don’t have a good experience, it’s frustrating.”
3. Start small, but save room for growth
Before purchasing technology, consider whether the system can grow with your business and integrate with other technologies you might need in the f uture. For example, many restaurants require point-of-sale systems that can integrate with other platforms.
“[Your] point-of-sale also needs to be open to having other inputs to that system—whether that be third-party delivery, online ordering, text-to-order, text-to-pay, all of these different options—to create the guest experience that you’re looking for,” Jeremy said.
4. Use customer data thoughtfully
“Today’s consumers, as they continue to trend younger, are going to give you data if you ask for it and you do something with it,” Jeremy said. “If you ask for it and don’t do anything with it, they will stop coming to your establishment.”
For example, you can use data from online review sites like Yelp to create more efficient and personalized marketing campaigns. Plus, this will show customers you value their feedback and want to make their experience better.
5. Choose partners that align with your business
When it comes to choosing a technology provider, think of them as a business partner—in other words, make sure that your business values and mission align. “They represent your brand. They represent your product. They represent your solution to the consumer,” Jeremy said.
Interview by Emily Washcovick
These lessons come from an episode of Behind the Review, Yelp & Entrepreneur Media’s weekly podcast. Listen below to hear from Jeremy and Emily, or visit the episode page to read more, subscribe to the show, and explore other episodes.
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The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.